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DEATH OF SIR JOHN HALL

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. A DISTINGUISHED CAREER. (From Our Own Correspondent.) CHRISTCHURCH, June 25. The Hon. Sir John Hall, K.C.M.G., died at his residence, Park terrace, about 3 o'clock this afternoon. It was about the beginning of October last year that Sir John Hall became seriously ill, «nd was compelled, on the advice of his medical attendant, to take to his bed. For a time the rest and partial respite from the arduous work which he had taken upon himself as Mayor of the city during the Exhibition year had a beneficial effect, and he rallied sufficiently to be able to get about his house and garden, and to take carriage exercise. At the beginning of the present year he removed to a house on the Cashmere Hills for change of air, and remained there about 10 weeks, when he returned to Park terrace. About a month ago his illness took a more serious turn, and for the last fortnight ne- had been con-fined entirely to his bed. His intellect remained undimmed throughout his illness, and almost to the last he took an intereat in publio affairs, especially those of the city, to which, it may be said, he sacrificed the last span of his life. He passed away very peacefully this afternoon, death stilling with gentle hand the active life which had been so long and honourably devoted to the publio service. It is understood that the funeral will take place at Hororata on Friday next. The Hon. Sir John Hall, K.C.M.G., was Colonial Secretary in the Fox Ministry of 1 1856, a member of the Stafford Govern1 ment from 1866 to 1869, of the Waterhouse Ministry from 1872 to 1873, of the Atkinson Administration in 1876, and Premier of the colony from 1879 to 1882. He was born in Hull, Yorkehire, in 1824, and was educated mainly on the Continent. He became private secretary to the London General Post Office, and was selected to go over the ground and report on a scheme to bring the Indian mails iverland to England, through Trieste and Germany instead of through Marseilles and France — a very flattering commission for a young man of 21. Sir John did not carry out the echejne, which was abandoned on the score of expense. In 1852 he came to New Zealand in the Samarang, the last of the Canterbury Association's ships, -and took V|i a sheep-farming station near the Rakaia River. Four years after his arrival in the colony he was appointed resident magistrate at Lyttelton, and Commissioner of Police. Soon afterwards he became resident magistrate at Christchurch. He was a member of the Provincial Council of Canterbury during nearly the whole period of its existence, and was for a considerable time a members of the Provin-cial Government. He always took an active part in local governing bodies — he was successively chairman of the Westland and Selwyn County Councils, and also of the first Christchurch Municipal Council, — and has represented several Canterbury constituencies in the House of Representatives. When Mr Fox became Premier in 1856 he included Sir John (then Mr) in his Ministry as Colonial Secretary. In 1862 Sir John was nominated to the Legislative Council, but resigned four years later to contest the Heathcote seat in the House of Representatives. In the new Parliament Mr Stafford returned to power, and Sir John Ha-ll accepted the portfolios of Postmastergeneral and Commissioner of Telegraphs. During the absence of Mr Fitzherbert in 1868 he acted as Colonial Treasurer, and in 1672 accepted a «oat in the Legislative Council in order to represent the FoxVogel Government there. This year saw rapid changes of Government. The FoxVogel Government was defeated by the Stafford Government, which in turn was defeated by the Waterhouse Government. Sir John Hall joined the last-named Ministry, but resigned in the following year owing to ill-health. In 1876 he again resigned his 6eat in the Council, and wae elected for Selwyn in the House of Representatives. Havmg defeated Sir George Grey in 1879, he became Premier, and continued in this office- until 1882, when he retired from the Ministry on account of failing health. He passed the Triennial Parliaments Bill, a bill for the extension of the franchise and other liberal measures. In 1882 he received the distinction of knighthood. For many years Sir John Hall laboured hard for the enfranchisement of women, and did more than any other man in Parliament to give effect to this reform. He represented New Zealand with Captain Ruesell at the first conference on Australian federation, held in Melbourne. Altogether he was in the New Zealand Parliament for nearly 40 years, and retired from political life in 1893. Sir John Hall was married in 1861 to Miss Dryden, daughter of Mr William Dryden, of Hull. His family consisted of two daughters and three sons. Sir John' Hall was chosen in March last to be the Mayor of Christchuroh during the Exhibition year, because, as he himself put it, he had rocked the cradle of the city's civic institutions as chairman of the first Town Council in 1862, and because he had been continually identified since then with the administration of provincial, and afterwards of colonial affairs. When be was called out of retirement to 6tand for the city mayoralty for the Exhibition year, it was represented to him that he would not be expected to perforni the arduous

duties of the office, and a committee was elected to save him from' the troubles of a campaign in case the election should be contested. The Hon. C. Louicson, however, who had been nominated for the ma3'oralty some time before, chivalrously stood aside in Sir John Hall's favour, and the veteran statesman, whom the people delighted to honour, was elected without opposition. Unfortunately, in consequence of illness, Sir John was not able to take part in any of the functions of the Exhibition, and the mayoral duties were, consequently, carried out by the DeputyMayor (Mr G. Payling). " There is nothing especially striking in Sir John Hall's character," writes Mr William Gisborne, in his " New Zealand Rulers and Statesmen." "but it is a combination of useful qualities, and this comj bination has enabled him, through a long career of years, to render valuable publio service to New Zealand. It may, on the whole, be said of Sir John Hall, that whatever he did he did creditably. He was always painstaking, accurate, conscientious, and intelligent ; and his knowledge of public business is thorough. He is, perhaps, more «n official than a statesman. It is difficult, however, to determine the boundary line between the two; the official frontier is steadily advancing, and, certainly, there is nothing necessarily antagonistic in the one to the other." Whether official or statesman, however, it is generally conceded that Sir John Hall was, taken all round, one of the best publio men in New Zealand. His official aptitude was wonderful, and he looked on the transaction of departmental business as a labour of love. Correspondence on public service, files of former papers, memoranda, returns, despatch boxes, and pigeon-holes were to him what a gymnasium is , to an athlete, and unascended alps are to a member of the Alpine Club. But, apart from his great official qualifications, Sir John Hall has the characteristics, of a statesman. He has moderation, judgment, and common sense. He is not apt to rush into extremes ; he is ever ready to retrace his steps, as far as practicable, when he has made a mistake, and he is seldom at fault in what, borrowing a nautical term, may be called his dead reckoning. His failings are comparatively slight and superficial. He is fussy over details, occasionally Kjctulant, narrow in some of his political views, and wanting in enthusiasm. He is not eloquent, but he is a good debater, and his speeches were, on the whole, effective. What was t.he secret of Sir John Hall's success? Industry and indomitable pluck. It' has often been very truly said of him that he never spared himself, whether in health or sickness, for it is on record that ho once remained at his post, grimly determined, when suffering from a serious illness. His political views were neither extreme no prejudiced. He was too sensible to confound the means with the end, and not to discriminate between the use and abuse of great principles. It was on Sir John Hall's motion in the House of Representatives in 1893 that the amendment to *" The Electoral Act, 1893," to the effect tfiat the word " person," whenever it occurs throughout the act, should include "woman,' and that the words and expression in the act importing the masculine gender should include women, except when otherwise expressly stated, was passed. That amendment and other consequential changes in the act practically admitted women to the franchise, and the act so amended came into force on September 19, 1893. Sir John Hall's health had been failing for some time past.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/OW19070626.2.218

Bibliographic details

Otago Witness, Otago Witness, Issue 2780, 26 June 1907

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DEATH OF SIR JOHN HALL Otago Witness, Issue 2780, 26 June 1907

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